I had come across a breeding herd of elephants in the Tshokwane area of the Kruger National Park one morning. They were feeding in a thicket of bush willows and were very relaxed, ignoring me completely as they concentrated instead on the smorgasbord of leaves and branches all around them. I watched for about ten minutes when a movement on the road up ahead caught my attention. A large bull was walking down the road towards me, exhibiting all the characteristic signs of musth. Bull elephants come into musth once a year, usually for many weeks and during this period the elephant’s body is flooded with testosterone and his hormones (and temper) are on the boil! He will spend most of his time actively searching for females in season and the thought of mating pushes everything, even eating, completely out of his mind. Musth bulls are usually very aggressive and it’s wise to stay out of their way. The signs of musth are often fairly obvious; the temporal gland between the eye and the ear is wet, making the skin look black, the head is held high and as the elephant walks he swings his head from side to side, there is also a constant dribbling of strong smelling urine. (This dribbling makes the elephant’s back legs wet and causes what was at one time thought to be a mysterious disease – ‘green penis syndrome!’) I once had a very scary encounter with a musth bull and so I am now extremely wary of them, they can be totally unpredictable. (Musth is a Hindi word meaning intoxicated as Indian mahoots were unable to control their elephants when they were in musth.)

On this occasion I watched for a few moments as the bull came towards me, his massive ears slapping his shoulders loudly as his head swung to and fro. I knew the signs all too well. I took one photograph – the reference for this painting – quickly reversed to a small side road, turned the vehicle around and plotted an alternative route back to camp. When it comes to a grumpy 6000kg bull elephant, retreat is always the best option.

This Fine Art Print from an original oils on canvas painting is printed on 425 GSM Fine Art Archival Canvas and delivered rolled in a tube, ready for stretching or framing. Free worldwide courier delivery.

Limited Edition of 50 Fine Art Prints.



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I am frequently asked why I paint red elephants and I don’t have an easy answer, other than an unnecessary “Why not?” I do paint elephants in their natural colour but there seems to be something about the red that captures the essence of the animal, it’s immense power and presence. And sometimes, at sunset, when an elephant emerges dripping wet from a waterhole and the light catches it’s skin at just the right angle, it does seem to glow with an otherworldly radiance.

Signed print from an original oils on canvas painting.

Printed on 425 GSM Fine Art Archival Canvas and delivered rolled in a tube, ready for stretching or framing. Free worldwide delivery.

Limited edition print of 50.

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600MM X 600MM, 900MM X 900MM


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